Wednesday, June 24, 2009


I awoke yesterday feeling quite melancholy. This is something that I've had to deal with off and on now for quite some time, but as of late it seems to have gotten much worse. Sleepless nights have not been helping the situation and I have been considering medication to help control it. If you've experienced depression you know what I am talking about. If not, all I can tell you is that it really sucks.

Another fellow cyclist and blogger had spoken some on the issue in one of her recent posts and described it as slipping into a very dark and lonely place. I would have to say that it is a pretty accurate description and it really isn't a place I'm anxious to go to right at this time.

I had spent the previous afternoon visiting with my friend Andrea, whom I teach with. We discussed this along with some people's need to get away and just be by themselves. I've always been one of these people. Others tend to look at it as rather awkward and unusual, but those of us that need that time away see it often times as an almost spiritual experience. Friends would often give me a hard time and family (Mother and Father especially) would chastise me for just taking off by myself. My folks never did like that part of bringing me up and it still worries them. As of late I am feeling more and more like I need to have some time off by myself to just think about life, decompress, meditate, push myself physically, read, and whatever else comes to mind.

The thing about it that most people don't understand is the fact that it has nothing to do with me not wanting to be with them. I love my friends and family. Patti and I have had this discussion a lot and I've told her that it is just that I sometimes feel that I need to escape, get away, or whatever you want to call it, to have time alone. It's just me and part of who I am.

So yesterday morning I spent the first forty-five minutes just wandering around the house trying to figure out what the hell I was going to do with myself. Normally I would be going off to school, but now that vacation is here this is not an option. School keeps me grounded, focused, gives me some direction, and also provides me with the companionship of a great group of colleagues, all of whom I grow to miss as the summer passes.

One of my issues is that I form emotional bonds with people quite easily and I don't necessarily deal very well with change. I get used to seeing everyone in the mornings, hearing their good morning greetings, getting that good morning hug, and just spending a few brief moments visiting. When school ends for the year I tend to miss that.

When I get into these funks one thing I tend to do is beat myself up physically. Rather than just lay around like a lot of people that experience depression I push myself. Once I snapped out of the fog I was in and had my coffee I took Bella, our dog, out for a brief walk. The air was quite heavy and thick and they were forecasting temps to be in the low to mid nineties. Not a good time to be pushing yourself hard and even more so if your body is not acclimated to it. This is our first real hot spell with high dew points (near tropical).
Too damn hot!!

The plan was to get in a solid run and then some mountain biking up at the park. I finally left the house for my run at about 10 A.M. and temps were already in the mid eighties with the dew point hovering around 67. Very hot and very sticky. Obviously it wasn't long into the run before I was soaked with sweat. After fifty minutes I was foaming at the mouth and I believe I may have frightened some people in the neighborhood. I must have looked like I was rabid or something of that nature. In temps like this I tend to get dehydrated rather quickly so taking in water and supplemental electrolytes is very important. Not to mention the fact that this body of mine doesn't tolerate the heat and humidity well anyway.
It was good to have some shade along the way. This one of my favorite points along the trail.

In the past year I've had issues with ventricular tachycardia, but hadn't had any episodes until after my run. It took about forty-minutes to an hour for my heart rate to settle down into a normal rhythm. After taking in some more fluids and eating, I rinsed off quick in the shower, got my camelback ready, changed into my cycling clothes and headed up to the park for 2-3 hours of hard mountain biking. The temp when I started riding was 88, when I finished it was hovering around 94 degrees.
Making sure I'm prepared for the heat and humidity

I actually felt pretty good throughout the first hour, but about half way through the second hour the heat was beginning to take its toll. Two hours into the ride my body was suggesting that maybe I should quit, but my mind said...NO! Keep pushing. After another forty minutes and with 34.5 miles in I had to admit defeat and stop. I had the shakes along with some chills and my legs were not functioning so well when I got off the bike. I was probably teetering on the edge of heat exhaustion.
Feeling pretty much wiped out from the heat and humidity

I don't ride her much anymore, but the Stumpjumper is still a nice little bike.

Then it was to the health club for a long cool shower, some stretching, and a bit of core work. Then home to crash on the couch for a couple of hours. At some point in time this week I will need to take a day off to recoup. I thought it would be today, but I was up at 4:30 A.M. this morning and at the club by 5:15 for Jody's spin class. I felt I had to go because it has been a while since I've seen everyone.

When I walked into class it was sort of like a little homecoming celebration. A lot hellos, hugs, and a good deal of teasing about me being Maple Grove's cover boy for cycling. The recent issue of the magazine has a photo of me on my bike up at Elm Creek. It was all kind of cool, but also a bit embarrassing. However, not as embarrassing as our instructor Jody's photo of her in a recent triathlon with her aero helmet on backwards. I'll post on that as soon as I get my hands on that photo. The thought of that will keep me smiling today.

As usual...Jody didn't disappoint. She kicked our asses for sixty minutes straight and I sweat out more fluid than I had in quite sometime. My legs are now officially dead. Well, if not dead they are somewhat stale.


Anonymous said...

Mike In WI say's

That was one heck of blog post, lots of information to soak up.

In Jill's case she plainly knows the root cause of her "Melancholy" and will get over it within an average time on the other hand are clearly in a longer term condition which will only sustain itself as time passes without getting proper professional help and support.

Vito, I think if you go get the correct support you need eventually you're disposition and disorder/s will change for the better.

I find it very informative that you must push yourself so hard to help block out certain thoughts and other emotional feelings...if you do not seek proper help eventually this tactic will become less efficient and the disorder will take control - kind of like a drug addict building up tolerances...get it?

Good thoughts heading your way!
Mike in WI

Vito said...

Thanks Mike...You're hired!
All kidding aside I should be OK once I get my head out of my @$$.

Just a lot going on this past month, with my brother's serious illness, the end of the school year, etc. It all just got to be a lot.

Just got a phone call from My sister saying that my father is now in the hospital. One more thing...Waiting to hear more about his illness and how he is doing.

Anonymous said...

Excellent blog post. Hit close to home. I have depression and anxiety problems, and have run for 36 years. If I didn't run, I am not sure how I would have dealt with things if I couldn't get out and get away.
I to, tend to form emotional bonds with some people, and then it is very hard for me when they suddenly move on to other things and are out of my life.
Whether walking my dog at the wooded conservation area, or going for a run, I always feel better afterward.
I appreciate the frankness of this post. Its good therapy for me to hear I am not the only one with these issues.
I hope things get better. I hope your Dad and your brother are doing well.

Petit Chèvre said...

Hey Vito,

Very forthcoming and honest post. I can say I agree with Mike in WI. I have noticed you have been here before in past posts. And, while exercise really does help, sometimes our genetics and environments call for a little support.

I spent a lot of years with GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) before it was diagnosed. I was raised otherwise and spend a long time trying to rationalize taking even a low dose med, but when I did, it helped. And it helped the people around me.

Good luck to you and your family.

Spin On

Ali B. said...

I definitely know this scenario & can completely relate to needing that time to decompress & be alone. This is especially true at the end of the school-year when the routine is foreign & the friends are no longer a part of each day. Keep sweating it out... & talking about it! I know you'll come around... we always do, right? :)

p.s. That Superior trip has me dreaming!

Vito said...

Thanks all for the feedback. It's much appreciated and always beneficial to hear from another's perspective.

WheelDancer said...

Excellent post! I have suffered from varying levels of depression for most of my life and can totally relate. For me this last year has been particularly tough but I survived in part due to some new understandings.

First about how big a role SAD has played in my life and how much help using a SAD light during the winter helped. Second is some nutritional changes I needed to make as recommended in a book by Dr. Hyla Cass, something like "Supplementing Your Prescription" but that might not be quite right.

I too push hard as a survival technique and have a solitary streak that needs care and feeding. Mike has a good point at least as far as how I have dealt with my inner darkness. I periodically seek out professional help though lately it has mostly been to confirm that my self appraisal is still on track and my approach still makes sense.

Bottom line is that it sucks but through my own drive I can keep my head above water and I suspect you can too. It doesn't make it easier, but a good life can still be had.

Peace my friend!

Vito said...


I can't thank you enough for the words and encouragement. It's odd to think that when you are going through these "dark" periods you feel so alone. It's nice to hear you're not the only one and that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Hopefully it is not a train! Joke